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Saddle Buying Guide - Saddles Direct

Saddle Buying Guide

Whether you’re new to saddles, overwhelmed by the options or want to know what to consider when buying a saddle, you’ve come to the right place.

Finding the perfect fit

The most important thing to us, to you and to your horse is that you buy a saddle that fits your horse correctly. Buying a saddle online, or in fact from anywhere, should always be done with a saddle fitter. And while the information in our saddle buying guide is designed to help you understand terminology, provide tips on measuring and saddles in general, it is absolutely not meant to replace the saddle fitter. Wherever you are in the world, if you do not have or cannot get access to a saddle fitter, please contact us and we will offer as much professional help and assistance as we can. 

So you’re looking for a saddle – how exciting!

Did you know after the purchase of your beloved horse or pony the saddle is not only the next biggest purchase but crucially the most important? If you don’t get your saddle right your riding won’t be right and you could very easily injure your horse, yourself or both. Buying a saddle isn’t easy and it’s often hard to know where to start and what everything means. Scroll down for our quick guide, which will help you make sense of all the saddle jargon you may come across and give you the knowledge you need to help you make the right choices when it comes to your saddle. 

Popular styles of saddle

There are many different types of saddles all designed to firstly fit a horse’s anatomy but also and just as importantly to fit you. These designs are made around the most popular disciplines and the shape and style will be to help the rider & horse find the balance, support and a position that suits their chosen discipline.

Dressage Saddles

Guide to Buying Dressage Saddles

What is dressage?

Dressage is a beautiful sport & now appreciated as a fundamental way to train and ride your horse on the flat, Dressage means “to train” At a basic level it involves simple movements such as circles and serpentines in arenas with letters in, at Olympic level it becomes a very advanced harmonious relationship between horse and rider where very skilled movements happen such as passage and piaffe. Find out more on the British Dressage website.

What does a dressage saddle look like?

The Dressage saddle is designed with a deeper seat and longer flaps than other saddles, this supports the rider through movements such as sitting trot but also frees the horse’s shoulder for sideways or “lateral” movement such as half pass. There are a huge variety of dressage saddles available on the market today such as the Albion SLK dressage saddle or the Equipe Olympia dressage saddle, the Fairfax Rebecca dressage saddle.

How do you choose a dressage saddle?

Firstly you have to choose from saddles that fit your horse only then you can choose what offers you the most comfort and support. How much does a dressage saddle cost? The cost of a dressage saddle can vary hugely from £400 for an older used Ideal Jessica saddle (link) to a £3500 for a new Bates Artiste saddle.

If you need any help whatsoever, please just contact us.

View Dressage Saddles


Guide to Buying Jump Saddles

What is showjumping?

Show jumping is an exciting sport in where a rider and horse try to jump over all of the fences in a course without knocking any downand sometimes within a set time limit. It is generally performed in an arena indoors or outdoors in front of a judge and, quite often an audience. For a novice the courses start with quite low fences 70cm to a professional jumping 1.40m.

What does a showjumping saddle look like?

The show jumping saddle is designed to be closer contact with forward cur flaps to allow the horse to bascule over the fence and the rider to<br ="1">follow getting the height they need whilst jumping over the fences. Show jumping riders have much shorter stirrups hence the need for the saddle flap to be shorter than a dressage and more forward cut.

How do you choose a showjumping saddle?

There are many brands manufacturing great jumping saddles, Equipe make a continental jumping saddle which is generally close contact with less restrictive knee blocks, whereas Albion K2 and K3 jumping saddles are on a more traditional English tree with bigger blocks. You need to find the perfect fitting saddle for your horse and then one that fits you and sometimes this is a compromise.

How much does a showjumping saddle cost?

Showjumping saddles can cost anything from £500 for a older used Albion K2 saddle to £4500 for an Amerigo Octave saddle.

If you need any help whatsoever, please just contact us.

View Jump Saddles

General Purpose Saddles (GP) and Very Slightly Dressage (VSD) Saddles

Guide to Buying GP Saddles

What is General Purpose riding?

General Purpose riding is for riders who like to do a bit of everything but at more novice levels where the technical support required from specialist types of saddle is not needed. It also is great for cost saving for riders that like to hack out, do a bit of flatwork and jumping lower fences as they have one saddle that can do it all.

What does a GP saddle look like?

The GP saddle is a brilliant all-rounder as it is not too straight or too forward cut with a semi deep seat. GP saddles are often referred to as being the most comfortable as manufacturer’s realise a big part of the amateur or leisure riders’ life is spent in the saddle. There is also a lot more hacking out done in GP saddles, so comfort is of optimum importance.

How do you choose a general purpose saddle?

As with all saddles a GP saddle must fit the horse first then it really is about you trying different saddles doing all the things you love to ride in – it must be great for everything and feel safe and comfortable. How much does a showjumping saddle cost? The good news is the budget for a GP saddle is generally a little less as
there are more synthetic options from reputable brands. For example, a used Wintec GP could cost you as little as £300 and even a new one could be under a £1000.

If you need any help whatsoever, please just contact us

View GP Saddles

Saddle size matters

The seat is measured from the manufacturer’s stud to the middle of the cantle. The seat is mainly about you and optimising your comfort unless and this is very important the saddle panels go past the last of your horses rib. This is generally unacceptable and could very easily damage your horses back. There are not any hard rules about the best seat size, saddles come in sizes of 14 inches to 19 inches with the most common size being 16 inch to 17 1/2 inch. The smaller the seat size generally the smaller the horse or pony and rider.

Measuring Seat Size

The width of the saddle is measured at the front where the wither sits, and this is all about the horse. Fittings range from narrow to extra extra wide. For more information on how a saddle fits, visit our saddle fitting guide.

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